Rhonda's Comments: Another work of art!!!!
In the sunshine of the second day of travel we noticed hundreds of lorikeet size birds which appeared as though they were making nests along the canal edge. They were coloured brilliantly as they carried red, black and yellow colours on there underside plus between the wings from the top view they display a beautiful blue colour which makes them one of the prettiest small birds I have ever seen. As this is such an area where saltwater is contained in the delta it is also the area where salt is a major part of the commerce so pyramids of the glistening stuff can be seen in the distance.
The port is right along side one of the walls so at night when the walls are lit, is a great sight. The port is quite large with a neverending flow of tourist boats coming and going so finding a berth can be difficult and expensive at €40.00 per night for our size boat. We went out to eat last night for Mother’s Day and sat in a nice comfortable restaurant (with Harry under the table of course) and chose some of the local fare to see how we liked it. The salads as an entrée were stunning with lots of mixed vegetables and some fruit including grapefruit on top. We foolishly had ordered a pizza as well, so had to really struggle to get through half of this as it was large and again loaded with beautiful cheeses, tomatoes, ham ,etc. A good night out and a real treat for Rhonda not having to prepare a meal for a change.
Today, Monday, we have been over to the walled town to wander about in typical tourist fashion looking at all the gifts and artefacts and at the art galleries where so many artists have displays and as the sun has come out and the temperature has risen we prepare to take off tomorrow along the Canal Rhone a Sete towards Carnon where we are told there is some great scenery so will bring you updates once we have covered some more miles.
Rhonda's Comments: Got fingers caught in the cookie jar!!!!
We spent the best part of an hour wandering around the area calling and whistling him, looking in the water and under parked cars etc. To be honest we got really frantic as we had no idea of where next to look, so I was about to get the bike off the back of the boat to maybe go out onto the roads in the thought that I might find him. All of a sudden Rhonda called out to say he had appeared out of the darkness all of a sudden and short of breath so we don’t have any idea of where or what he did but we were sure delighted to get him back. We still can’t understand what would make him do this as it was completely out of character.
A fitful night’s sleep followed, however, we decided to get underway in the morning and lo and behold Harry did his disappearing trick again as we were getting the boat ready to depart for about 20 minutes before he came back all of a shiver so we guessed something had been wrong with him and sure enough he showed continuing signs of dysentery and gripes, however, thankfully that has now passed so hope we don’t have any more of that problem.
The fishing boats still come into the town right alongside the main street to sell their catch each morning so the choice of variety and fresh fare is readily available. A walk around the marina which is huge, with yachts, launches and up to gin palace sized craft from almost every port in the world.
With the weather seemingly to be improving again, we were able to get the scooter off and to go to the supermarket for refurbishment of food and drink then went into town for a calamari meal which we had so looked forward to. The service and presentation was really good, however, the calamari while being fresh was not up to the standard of Swashbucklers back in Auckland nor Doyles in Sydney. It was cooked carrying too much batter which soon left the remains tasting greasy and soggy but that is the way they do it so we had better look more carefully in future.
Anyway, as the weather has decided to turn to a more autumn feeling than should be for this part of the world, we pushed on to get through the bridge way which closes off the canal apart from two openings per day (8.30am and 4.0 pm) headed to the town of Frontignan which is the step before Sete where you have to decide if the conditions are suitable to cross the E’tang de Thau which is another inland sea protected only by a shingle bank from the Mediterranean but which is large enough for conditions to become very rough at times for the shallow, flat bottomed type craft of which most leisure barges are designed, to cross or to wait for conditions to improve. We will wait in Frontignan for a couple of days as there is a large open market here tomorrow, Saturday and parades etc on Sunday.
The city of Sete is a huge port (the second largest fishing port on the Med) with a population of over 43,000 and in the port you will see the biggest range of trawlers and fishing boats possible. From Purse Seiners of up to at least 80 meters in length to the humble coastal fishing boats which hunt for local fish including calamari which is a great favourite of the locals and visitors alike.
While it is set right on the Mediterranean coast it also embraces some quite large hills up to 1500 feet at its western side so a trip up them gives great views over the city and area and a look at a different type of architecture of the homes etc. It is very steep but we took it on with the two of us on the scooter and almost made it to the top before the steepness plus the weight carried forced us to turn around and descend. We were really surprised, however, to see the number of folk cycling or walking up including a number of elderly residents. We wondered how all the residents used to manage this arduous climb before motor cars came along.
The view out across the Mediterranean is really good and gives a better perspective of just how big that sea is. Upon our return to Frontignan we received a call from our pal Jo who was going to drive our car down to us from Saint Jean-de-Losne, some 500 kms back, to say it would not start so “back to the garage”. What a lemon I seem to have bought but as we have already spent so much on it, we feel we should probably hold on to it in the hope that it can be simply fixed as we hopefully have done all that needs to be done to ensure it keeps going in future. Time will tell but we now need to work out another plan of how to get it down to here.
Monday we spent getting ready to move on and took a couple of trips to the supermarket on the scooter shopping and getting our 20 litre drum filled with diesel for the generator and to ensure we had sufficient to cross the E’tang de Thau if the weather permits on Tuesday.
Ok, up and away as the weather looked pretty good and wind just light so we followed the canal to Sete but on the way we met our friends who had left our port at 6 am to beat the wind etc, coming back to say that the conditions were too rough for them, however, they have a smaller boat than “Somewhere” so we decided once we had seen the conditions out on the E’tang de Thau to push on. There was a light chop with whitecaps and the wind was strengthening but as we were to keep pretty close to the land on the windward side we crossed without incident taking 2 hours making the 12km passage.
After arriving at the end of the sea voyage we entered the Canal du Midi which at this point is a disgrace with hardly enough water under our keel for some reason, this canal which is like a local creek is jammed with all sorts of boats many of them just rotting hulks tied to the banks or home made jettys preventing passage craft to get to the so called marina and as we wanted water we were a bit peeved but pushed on and soon came to our first lock which then gave us access to the true canal which is tree lined, has a better width and depth so all looks more promising for our onward journey. We will stay in Agde and bring you more details of our voyage in a couple of weeks.
Best regards to all
Ken, Rhonda and Harry